The good news, if you are a golfer or happen to root for one, is that golf is not hazardous to your quadriceps. Two of Long Island’s best known experts on the physiology of the swing agreed that the quad is not one of the stress points in hitting the little white ball. The very little white ball.
Whether you should be seen on the course if you are a major league baseball star with an iffy quad is another issue. That is not one for golf fitness guru John Ondrush, who will host PGA Tour pros at his Syosset academy during The Barclays later this month, or Amityville sports chiropractor Jeff Poplarski, who has worked with pro golfers during his 12 years as head of the wellness operation at the U.S. Open. Neither has ever treated Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who went on the disabled list hours after he was photographed playing a pre-game round of golf.
But the two men do know about golf conditioning, and where it doesn’t begin.
“The No. 1 injury in golf is the lower back. The No. 1 injury among players on the PGA Tour is the right shoulder,” Poplarski said. “I’ve evaluated over 5,000 golfers and I don’t think I’ve ever had a golfer come in and say ‘I just injured my quad on the golf course.’
“Listen, the quads are not the most important muscle group in golf,” he said, adding that at the Titleist Performance Institute, in which he is a certified medical professional, studies have shown that the glutes are considered the “king” of the swing, followed by the abs, which are considered the “queen.”
Ondrush, who regularly works with local pros and recreational golfers on their fitness, agreed, “We don’t see a lot of quad injuries for golfers” and that “the quad is not a dominant muscle in the golf swing . . . It’s definitely a lot more stressed in the baseball swing.”
So the average weekend player does not have to worry about missing his or her next match because of a quad strain like Cespedes has. “The bottom line is if you’re not feeling pain, it’s not uncomfortable during the activity, it’s not the worst thing you could be doing,” Ondrush said. Which is not to say he endorsed Cespedes playing 18 when he couldn’t play centerfield.
“I went to my brother-in-law’s house this weekend for my nephew’s birthday party. They are diehard Mets fans,” he said. “And they were crazy about this. It didn’t look good, visually.”
When he was asked about what recreational golfers should be focused on at this stage of summer, Ondrush did not hesitate. “They need to stretch,” he said. “Once the muscles get tired and fatigued, they’re going to get tightened up, so stretching afterward is just as important as stretching before.”
Poplarski said he is emphatic that golfers stay hydrated. “Drink half your body weight in ounces of water,” he said. “If you’re 200 pounds, you should be drinking 100 ounces during the round.” He also said that fruits and vegetables are important to keep muscles working and recommends four to six pieces, “in all the colors of the rainbow.”
He knows that golf is a captivating game, especially for pro baseball players with hours of downtime every day. Through his work with the U.S. Golf Association, he has crossed paths with ballplayers who look forward to their teams’ trips to New York so they can head directly to Long Island’s courses.
One Hall of Fame pitcher told the Amityville sports chiropractor, “The greatest day of my life in golf was when I played Shinnecock, Atlantic and National all in one day.” He missed a team meeting but he had an understanding manager (also a golfer) who said, “We’ll give you a pass.”
Sherri Tichner, Woodmere Club, third hole, 97 yards, 9-iron
Fred Komoroski, Timber Point White, sixth hole, 136 yards, 8-iron
Dane Stricoff, Tallgrass GC, eighth hole, 158 yards, 4-hybrid
Ron Cyr, Glen Cove GC, third hole, 153 yards, 7-iron
Bob Thomas, Mill Pond GC, 14th hole, 122 yards, pitching wedge
Scott McCaig, Willow Creek GC, 16th hole, 107 yards, 9-iron
Jackie Trachtenberg, Town of Oyster Bay GC, 12th hole, 100 yards, 7-iron
Maryann Zamber, Rock Hill G & CC, fourth hole, 120 yards, 5-hybrid
Christopher Cascone (of Yaphank), Richter Park GC (Danbury, Conn.), fifth hole, 170 yards, 6-iron
Bob Stenhouse, Bethpage Yellow, fourth hole, 130 yards, 5-hybrid
Victor Lewandowski, Heatherwood GC, sixth hole, 145 yards, 8-iron
Dennis Patti, Bethpage Blue, 15th hole, 201 yards, 3-wood